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Care Inspectorate targeted TNS

Further support for the belief that the Care Inspectorate targeted TNS on behalf of Perth & Kinross Council has emerged from Freedom of Information requests.

In May 2018, following an unannounced inspection which resulted from dishonest PKC submissions to the Registrar of Independent Schools, the CI dropped TNS grades across three inspection criteria without justifiable reasons for doing so.

When questioned by the Head of Care and Head of School, Sandra Wright, Alison Jamieson and Lynne Ellison were evasive and contradictory, and failed to provide any evidence that care standards had fallen at a time when staff in school believe that they had risen sharply.

They stated that one reason for the fall in grades was that the inspection criteria had changed but were unable to explain how or point to where these changed criteria were published. They also stated that there would be no indication given in the final report that this was a caused the drop in grades for anyone considering placing children at the school.

School managers asked how a criticism could be made of the lack of speech and language provision at the school when pupils did not qualify for NHS input, and they agreed to amend that point in their draft report but failed to do so.

CI were also asked to justify why there was a sudden requirement to have a young adult policy and were told that all services with pupils above the age of 16 would have to provide one. Both Angie Gordon and Bill Colley demanded to know why they had not been warned about this by Sandra Wright but were not provided with a satisfactory answer. It has now emerged that TNS was the only school in Scotland required to provide a separate young adult policy and this suggests that care standards in Scotland are arbitrary and thus discriminatory - a crucial failing in the care system.

CI were also asked to explain why there had been no response to their request for the child protection policy to be approved when it had been sent in March, but the inspectors claimed not to have seen it.

FOI documentation also demonstrates that the CI informed the Registrar of Independent Schools that there had been failings in the child protection procedures in November/December 2017 when this was not the case. A SSSC investigation concluded that, “child protection procedures appear to have been followed at all times”.

It is the belief of school staff that the Care inspectors deliberately misled, or witheld critical information from, the Registrar in November 2018 following the conclusion of the police child protection investigation which had determined that no wrongdoing had taken place at the school, and that this led to the imposition of conditions and the issuing of an improvement notice which eventually forced closure.

Parents suspicious of the actions of the Care Inspectorate have drawn attention to the close relationship between that organisation and Perth & Kinross Council, noting that the Chief Executive of PKC was Head of CI until May 2018, and that Bernadette Malone, CE of PKC, retired and became a board member of the Care Inspectorate.

If it is the case that the Care Inspectorate treated TNS differently to other specialist provisions to obscure PKC failings in the February 2017 tragedy and to reduce the financial cost of educating pupils who they had failed, the whole future of CI must be in doubt given that it would undermine the integrity of the whole organisation.

Both former Heads of School have called for the Care Inspectorate to be abolished and described it as, “Not fit for purpose”.

Bill Colley